ADIPURUSH IS WHAT THE AUDIENCE is subjected to when its makers consume a quintal of ganja and eject it from their nether end on-screen. Adipurush is a three hour-long, black-coloured shit-fest. This is pretty much its review.
Perhaps the most accurate response to this shit-fest comes from the Telugu-speaking states. For a good reason: in no other South Indian state has the Ramayana imprint been so deep and durable as here. In this video, an outraged viewer wants to rub Om Raut’s face in the ground, make him lick it and drag him on the streets while he thrashes him. Others want to kill him. Another gentleman actually took bath and entered the theatre to watch this movie considering it to be a temple showing Sri Rama’s pavitra-katha. Another guy had a one-word review: Galeej. This is how a viewer was dressed.
Adipurush is the projection of a perverse psyche cast as cinema, and it is not new. Its luridness is new. Its origins are colonial and Christian and its Indian makers are its newgen inheritors. In their haughty interview with Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami, they display the same colonial and missionary disdain for the very epic that makes them Indian and Hindu at least in name. We might no longer need western academics to demean Hanuman as a “monkey God” — cultural vandals and artistic philistines like Manoj Muntashir and Om Raut are already on the job on the sacred soil of Bharatavarsha. Except that their pathetic lack of talent has botched up the job.
Calling Sri Ramachandra as Adipurush is the clearest evidence of a barren imagination. But wait. He’s not Sri Ramachandra. He is Raghav. Lakshmana is Shesh. Sita Devi is Janaki. Hanuman is Bajrang. Ravana is Lankesh — with no apologies to P. Lankesh, another known hater of Ramayana. Even his mediocre but ideologically-charged talent couldn’t have conjured this carbuncle.
THE ACADEMIC AND ARTISTIC CLIMATE that incubated, enabled and accelerated the distortions and perversions of our sacred epics dawned in the 1960s. It was truly the decade in which deracination was both officialised and made fashionable. The perverts were Hindus themselves. But they were not mere Hindus. They were macabre Marxists who unfortunately happened to be born as Hindus. In his autobiography and elsewhere, Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa has given some of the most penetrative insights into this phenomenon.
The consequence was the emergence of putrid garbage-dumps like Ramayana Vishavruksham (Ramayana: The Poisonous Tree) and A.K. Ramanujan’s sly 300 Ramayanas. We have no way of knowing whether the makers of Adipurush have been “inspired” by such trash and I doubt they’ve actually read them. But they have clearly not read Valmiki Maharshi’s Srimad Ramayana. If they had read at least one Sarga or one chapter in any Sarga, its intrinsic power to ennoble them would’ve banished in them all thoughts of making a movie. Or perhaps I am expecting too much from the self-loathing and nihilistic citizens of Bollywood.
A fundamental building block of the cathedral of Ramayana-perversion is reductionism. You first posit that Sri Rama was a human being like all of us, endowed with the same goodness and frailties. And then you cherrypick the major incidents in Srimad Ramayana and “prove” how Sri Rama was not an ideal man, king, brother, son, and husband. He was actually the opposite. This twisted logic then voyages to its predefined conclusion: Ravana and not Sri Rama is the real hero of the epic.
The whole rancid process involves three major sleights of hand.
The first hinges on the assumption that a majority of readers have not read Maharshi Valmiki’s Ramayana in the original. Which is true. But what is the response of these perverts when they’re cornered by people who have actually read the original? Answer: claim that there is no original Ramayana. It was the cultural hoodlum, A.K. Ramanujan who first spun this theory.
The second: this reductionism completely omits the profound details of Sri Ramachandra’s character that Maharshi Valmiki has painted. In the twenty-eight evocative verses in the first Sarga of the Ayodhya Kanda, Sri Ramachandra comes alive before us. Among others, this portrayal continues to remain a great fount of inspiration for artists in various realms — painting, poetry, lyric and dance. For example, it is this Ramachandra that Tyagaraja invites to his home in his Ra ra maa inti daaka. The aforementioned omission of details is done deliberately because these details unravel every single virtue of Sri Ramachandra, which these perverts abhor because virtue is the greatest obstacle in the path to “revolution.”
The third actually forms the basis for its precedents. It is the premise as well as the goal: of destroying the time-honoured and unbroken sanctity that our people have towards Srimad Ramayana.
The ultimate consequence of these three: to degrade an ageless epic that shaped our national culture and moulded the character of our people by diminishing its stature. Over the last century, Srimad Ramayana has been so thoroughly defaced that it can mean anything to anyone. It is a book of political ideology. It is a manual of depraved sociology and anthropology. It is a means to capture or lose political power. It is a Leftist guidebook for stoking social strife. In the context of shit-fests like Adipurush, it is a laboratory for degenerate art.
This embracive anarchy has been accomplished through a straightforward device: the character assassination of Sri Ramachandra.
THE ONGOING NATIONAL BACKLASH against Adipurush is thoroughly deserved. It is also a superb testament of hope and optimism. That in spite of a century of deracination and in spite of the choking cloud of Western materialism, the life-giving Nandā-dīpa of Srimad Ramayana remains aglow in millions of hearts. It is precisely this glow that has transformed into a blaze in the eyes of the audience and has singed the makers of Adipurush.
We also witness the same phenomenon of 300 Ramayanas, Ramayana Vishavruksham, etc., in the case of Adipurush. That there are many “versions” and “interpretations” of the epic and that all are somehow equally valid and respectable. A good chunk of those who identify themselves as “right wing” or similar labels have vocally supported this farce of extolling Adipurush. May Sri Ramachandra give them solace. But this sort of vindication is a variant of the justification offered for multiculturalism.
Telugu cinema has unarguably produced some of the best movies on Srimad Ramayanam. Both the full story of Srimad Ramayanam and episodes from it. Because a comprehensive list is available on Wikipedia, I’ll refrain from mentioning them here. They continue to be watched in the millions on YouTube and elsewhere because their makers earnestly sought to understand the heart of Maharshi Valmiki. These films have become perhaps as enduring as Srimad Ramayana for the same reason. Their makers approached it with a genuine spirit of sanctity… the stories of their making are legion… how the whole filmmaking atmosphere, akin to a temple, was permeated with devotion and purity… these were not merely movies but Puja.
Art and aesthetics is sanctity.
Which begets a question: why can’t the likes of Om Raut and Manoj Muntashir see what these aforementioned filmmakers realised in Srimad Ramayana? As we have narrated in this piece, a saint like Sri Krishnabrahmatantra had tears in his eyes after listening to the episode where Sumitra Devi consoles Kausalya Devi on the eve of Sri Ramachandra’s exile.
What infernal virus compels the makers of Adipurush to heartlessly slaughter this soul-elevating epic? What prevents them from discovering values and ideals innate in the Srimad Ramayana? The answer: ego, and a degenerate filmy atmosphere that feeds it. More than half a century ago, the brilliant Kannada poet K.V. Puttappa, gave a powerful rebuttal to such deranged filmmakers and artists and scholars:
“The nature of scholarship [and literature] that attempts to seek only events of world history in Valmiki’s Ramayana is akin to a fool who sees only a stick in sugarcane. Such a [person] will defraud himself … and will not only misdirect himself but will mislead others as well. The damage that such [people do] is incalculable… If we compare Akbar’s reign with Anjaneya’s Great Leap over the Ocean using the methodology of history, it will obviously sound ridiculous.
“Attempts to posit a north-south Indian divide, Aryan-Dravidian conflict, trying to “study” the “civilization of monkeys” in Kishkindha, and “sociological” studies of the Sri Lankan people using Ravana as the yardstick…all such endeavours do not bring respect to the discipline of history research.” (Emphasis added)
I’ll conclude this essay by invoking another anecdote from the fruitful life of Sri Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma. It has been recounted earlier on The Dharma Dispatch.
A Communist “revolutionary” Telugu poet — known to Sri Rallapalli — had turned completely blind in his old age. When Sri Rallapalli met him, he lamented:
“People keep telling me that I am suffering this sorry fate because I wrote horrible things about the characters of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. They say that my blindness is the fruit of such sins. How can people be so cruel!”
A nonplussed Rallapalli replied: “I am also one among those people.”
Time will show to us the fate of the makers and supporters of Adipurush.
I’ll be around.
|| Sri Rama Jayam ||
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